For three days, mobs have pelted stones, hurled petrol bombs, fired from guns in India’s national capital. Spread across several locations in North East Delhi, the violence has been unmistakably communal. At least 24 people are dead.
What began as violent clashes between Hindu groups supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act and Muslim groups opposing it has given way to large-scale attacks mostly on Muslim neighbourhoods. Over 200 people have been injured.
Scroll.in reporter Vijayta Lalwani, for instance, witnessed a mob chanting “Jai Shri Ram” as they set a Muslim-run shop on fire on Monday. Mobs also targeted several journalists covering the violence, demanding to know whether they were Hindu or Muslim and checking their phones for videos or photos they might have shot.
Delhi Police has imposed Section 144 in the affected areas to bar people from assembling in groups, but the violence continues unabated. The police has repeatedly been accused of either inaction or complicity in the violence against Muslims.
While details about all the people killed in the violence so far are not yet known, here is what we know about 13 people who have been identified.
Ratan Lal, 42
Head constable Ratan Lal was the first person to lose his life in the Delhi violence on Monday. He had joined the Delhi police in 1998 as a constable and had been posted in Gokulpuri for the past few years. He had a strong build and wore his moustache like wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who had been captured by the Pakistani army after shooting down a Pakistani fighter jet last year. According to his colleagues, he was known to volunteer for difficult and dangerous assignments. Lal is survived by his mother, his wife and three school-going children, with whom he was planning to visit his village in Rajasthan for Holi in March.
Shahid Alvi, 24
Shahid Khan, an auto driver, was returning home with his brother after prayers on Monday when he got hit by a bullet in his stomach in Mustafabad at around 3.30 pm. His family, which hails from Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, was informed of his condition by a stranger who showed up at their door and showed them a picture of Alvi lying in a pool of blood on the street. They found him at GTB hospital, where he had been taken by two other people.
His brother Irfan Alvi, 27, has been waiting at GTB Hospital since the last three days. “We have to take his body to Bulandshahr but the hospital has not told us anything,” Irfan told Scroll.in on Wednesday morning.
Alvi is survived by his 20-year-old wife Shazia, who he had married just six months ago and who is now two-months pregnant. The couple were planning to go on a holiday in March.
“Rizwana, Mahtab is no more,” Yasmin, 35, told her neighbour over the phone. Yasmin, a resident on Brijpuri, was at GTB hospital on Wednesday morning, waiting for the body of her brother-in-law Mahtab.
Mahtab had set out of their home in Brijpuri at around 5 pm on Tuesday to buy milk. “He wanted to drink chai but there was no milk and I told him not to go out because of the arson going on,” she said. When he returned from the grocery store, a mob locked the gate barring him from entering the narrow lane where the house is situated. He had to take a longer route to enter where violence was taking place at the time.
“A short distance away, they suddenly chanted ‘Jai Siya Ram’ and took away my Mahtab,” said Yasmin, adding she witnessed this herself. “I shouted back to say open the gate, where are you taking my Mahtab.” Within minutes, Mahtab’s younger sister got a call from an unknown number, Yasmin said. “The person said tumhare Mahtab ko aag ke hawale kar diya gaya hai,” she said. “We have consigned your Mahtab to the flames.”
On Wednesday at around 5 am, Yasmin said Mahtab’s body was taken to Lok Nayak hospital and then brought to GTB hospital where the family awaits for the post mortem to take place. Yasmin said Mahtab’s body showed several burn injuries below his neck. “The clothes he was wearing burnt and stuck to his skin,” she said.
Yasmin said she could not understand the cause of the violence that broke out in her neighbourhood. “I don’t know what has happened to our Hindu brothers these days,” she said. “If being Muslim itself is a crime, then we are criminals.”
Rahul Solanki, 26
A marketing executive, Solanki took leave from office because of the tense situation in his area on Monday. According to his father Hari Singh Solanki, he stepped out of home to buy milk for tea at around 5 in the evening after which he was confronted by a mob, which shot him at point-blank range. When his family tried to get help, they were rejected by four different hospitals, according to his brother Rohit.
Solanki’s body has still not been handed over to his family, much to their anguish. “The funeral rites of the policeman who was martyred have already been done, but for the 18 to 20 people here, why are their post mortems not being done?” Hari Singh Solanki told Scroll.in on Wednesday morning. “Their children are gone, why are they being harassed?”
For his family, this tragedy has come in the midst of preparations for Solanki’s sister’s wedding in April. Hari Singh Solanki has blamed BJP leader Kapil Mishra for provoking people towards violence, and lamented the lack of police force deployment in his area, which is still unsafe. “The rioters are winning, and the administration is doing nothing,” he said.
Ashfaq Hussain, 22
An electrician, Hussain worked as an electrician in Mustafabad. He got married on February 14. Eleven days later, he was returning home from work when he was shot five times, his relative said on Wednesday.
“Kapil Mishra should be blamed for this,” said his relative Salim Baig, 40, who waited along with other family members at GTB hospital. Mishra is the BJP leader who openly declared in the presence of the police that he and his supporters would take the law into their hands to clear anti-CAA protest sites.
Baig said Hussain was first admitted to Al-Hind Hospital and then brought to GTB hospital around 9 am on Wednesday. Baig said that hospital authorities were yet to conduct a postmortem of the body.
Another relative of Hussain who was mourning for him said, “Dekh dekh ke maar rahe the.” They are picking their targets.
On Tuesday morning, Akbari, who only goes by her first name, was with several members of her family on the third floor of their building in Gamri extension, 1.5 km from Khajuri Khas. By noon, a mob chanting “Jai Shri Ram” stormed their lane and began setting shops and homes on fire, including Akbari’s building. The fire first began on the first two floors of the building, forcing labourers from her family’s tailoring business to climb upstairs. Eventually, the labourers as well as Akbari’s daughter-in-law and three grandchildren had to seek refuge on their roof, but Akbari was too weak to climb or run. She died of smoke and fire and her body was recovered by firefighters hours later.
Akbari’s family was rescued from their rooftop after an hour, while her son, Mohammed Saeed Salmani, was saved because he had stepped out to buy milk. “If I had been there, perhaps I would have been able to help her get on the roof,” Salmani told Scroll.in.
A security assistant with the Intelligence Bureau, Sharma’s body was recovered from a drain in Chand Bagh on Wednesday afternoon. He was returning home on Tuesday evening when he was accosted by a stone-pelting mob who beat him to death. His body was then thrown in the drain. His body has been sent for autopsy. His father, Ravinder Sharma, also works with the Intelligence Bureau and has accused supporters of Aam Aadmi Party for his son’s murder.
Mohammed Furkan, 32
The owner of a wedding-cards business, Furkan left his house in Jaffrabad on Tuesday to buy groceries – he was afraid the escalating violence in Delhi would trap his family at home, and he wanted to stock up on supplies. He was hit by a bullet in his thigh just a few hundred metres from home. Furkan has a wife and two children, a four-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy.
Mubarak Hussain, 28
Hussain, a daily wage labourer, died on the spot on Tuesday afternoon after being shot in the chest in Babarpur’s Vijay Park colony. According to eyewitness Naeem Khan, Hussain had been killed by a man in a black jacket who opened fire across the street, in the presence of the police. His body lay on the street, covered in blood, for more than three hours before he was taken to a hospital. Hussain moved to Delhi 10 years ago from his village in Darbhanga, Bihar, and his 18-year-old brother happened to be visiting him when he was killed.
Birbhan Singh, 50
Birbhan Singh, a resident of Karawal Nagar, ran a dry cleaning store in Maujpur. His brother Nirbhan Singh said he was shot in the back of his head by a mob while he was on his way home.
Around 5 pm on February 25, he got a call from an unknown number informing him that his brother had been admitted in GTB hospital. Nirbhan Singh said that the hospital authorities were not handing over his brother’s body. “They are not giving us a reason,” he said. “All they are saying is that it is the order of the LG [Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor] to not hand it over.”
Nazeem Khan, 35
A scrap dealer by profession, Nazeem Khan was out buying groceries for his family on Monday when he was shot dead by rioters. He is survived by a wife and six children.
An auto driver from Kardampuri, Khan was brought dead to GTB Hospital on Tuesday after getting shot in the head on his way to buy groceries. His family struggled to find an ambulance that would take him to the hospital. He is survived by his wife Ashyana, a one-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.
A resident of Ghonda, Vinod Kumar was brought dead to Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital. As of Tuesday night, his body was still in the hospital’s morgue.